By Associated Press - Thursday, February 14, 2019

LAKEWOOD RANCH, Fla. — Ben DeArmond had a debut to remember on the Tour because of one hole he will never forget — a score of 17 on the par-4 second hole Thursday in the Lecom Suncoast Classic.

“I’ve never made a 17 in my life, not even when I started playing golf,” DeArmond said.

DeArmond, the head pro at the TPC at Treviso Bay in Naples, drove into the water on the 491-yard second hole, and that’s where his troubles began. He twice tried to clear the water from the rough and failed. He went back to the tee and hit into the water a fourth time, and then found the water twice more from the rough before he finally reached the fairway.

It eventually added to a 17, and DeArmond wound up with a 91.

“I’ve learned nerves are a real thing,” DeArmond said. “I had a great range session, felt good going in, and it was just an out-of-body experience on that hole.”

He didn’t lose his sense of humor, and neither did his father, who recognized the “Tin Cup” moment.

“My own dad called me ‘Roy’ a couple of holes later, so he referenced Roy McAvoy,” said DeArmond, referring to the character played by Kevin Costner who repeatedly hit into the water on the last hole of the U.S. Open. “I couldn’t get it up in the air even with a 5-iron, so I’m not used to that. Just went a little numb. But we got through it had a good back nine. So I’ll be back tomorrow.”

DeArmond, who received a sponsor exemption into tournament, said the experience didn’t entirely ruin his day. He played the last 11 holes with 10 pars and a bogey.

And he left behind a powerful message for anyone else playing what he calls the hardest sport in the world.

“If you learn anything from me today, it’s don’t withdraw, don’t give up, have fun with it,” DeArmond said. “It’s a game. Everybody has a bad day, a bad hole - even the worst hole of your life. So you have to move on.”

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